Last year’s Sony A1 Series OLED TV was widely acknowledged as one of the best – if not the best – TVs launched in 2017. And that's quite impressive since the A1 was Sony's first proper consumer OLED TV.
Now its epic hardware has found its way into the A8F series, launched at CES 2018. The £2,800 A1 is still the flagship model, but Sony says the A8F sits just underneath it in the OLED line-up.
Like the A1, the A8F is also available in 55 and 65-inch variants (the A1 also has a 77-inch version globally).
As yet there’s no Sony A8F UK price or release date.
The A8F follows the same ‘One Slate’ design as the A1, but there’s now an aluminium stand (sorry Sony, pedestal) underneath the screen. The A1 featured an angled stand at the rear that meant it wasn’t upright unless it was wall-mounted. Because of the picture frame-like stand, the A1’s footprint is more significant, so it isn’t one for most of us.
There are no visible speakers (more on that in a mo) so there’s nothing to distract from the viewing experience aside from a thin aluminium bezel. Over 8 million self-illuminating pixels go to make up the display, which looked fabulous on the CES show floor. Sony did have these screens very low down and it really didn’t do the line-up justice.
Without visible speakers, Sony’s Acoustic Surface technology is used – again dripped down from the A1 – this means the entire screen is one big speaker for high frequency sound. Yes, it does vibrate the whole screen thanks to actuators on the back of the panel. But no, don’t worry, you can’t see any impact on the picture. It’s quite incredible tech which we witnessed it on the A1 last year and now on the A8F on the show floor at CES.
Sony says its especially good for dialogue because sound comes directly from where you see the person speaking, but while there are some TVs where you feel like the sound is coming from the rear, this doesn’t tend to be an issue on flagship models.
There’s a subwoofer on the back – which provides the low frequency sound – as well as built-in cable management so the rear of the display looks suitably classy (although a little less distinctive than the A1). Also on the rear there’s built-in cable management so you won’t have cablegeddon going on, while there are four HDMI and three USB inputs for all your devices.
Like the A1 and the ZD9 LCD (don’t get us started on Sony’s nomenclature), the A8F also boasts the X1 Extreme processor. Interestingly, Sony also showcased a new X1 Ultimate processor – a new successor chip that’s two times as powerful as the Xtreme and can support 8K and higher frame rates.
It can also support higher levels of brightness and Sony showcased a demo of the processor at 10,000 nits of peak brightness (that’s many times as bright as today’s TVs, even though you wouldn’t need that level of luminance across the whole display and, even then, it might only be a short period).
HDR10, HLG and Dolby Vision are the three supported HDR formats. As with other Sony TVs, there’s Android TV and Chromecast built-in. There’s voice control (you can use Google Home, of course) and Amazon Alexa support as well.
At CES Sony also announced the new XF90 LCD series, again equipped with the X1 Extreme processor, will be available in 75, 65, 55 and 49 screen sizes plus a super new Dolby Atmos soundbar, the HT-XF9000.
The most interesting thing about the XF90 is that it uses a new tech - X-Motion Clarity - to further reduce motion blurring for fast action and sport. Basically, this uses local dimming and backlight boosting to smooth out how pictures appear.
The A8F didn’t have quite the wow factor as when we first saw the A1 in the flesh last year but it’s simply because we have been spoilt; many will find the display incredible.
We can’t wait to see what it’s like under full review conditions. After all, the problem is that you can only judge a TV at a trade show with the stock footage that the manufacturer is showing you rather than the footage that they choose to have on loop.